There are a lot of divas rocking soundtracks right now, and obviously, somebody needs to sort through their movie-friendly tunes and decide which one is best. Without making distinctions like this, how would we make it through the day?We would not.
But have no fear. I am here to consider the three hottest diva soundtrack cuts of the moment. Adele’s “Skyfall,” Christina Perri and Stave Kazee’s “A Thousand Years, Pt. 2” from Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2, and Fiona Apple’s “Dull Tool” from This is Forty. Which one is the juiciest plum? Which one deserves an Oscar, even though the Oscars have essentially stopped acknowledging good film songs? Which one is the song we need to play in the iPod of our hearts? All will be revealed!
(1) “Dull Tool” by Fiona Apple, from This is Forty
If you like Fiona Apple, then you will love this song, and if you don’t enjoy her cabaret-pop vibe, then you will not. But I love it, you guys. And as PopDust points out, this song reunites her with Jon Brion, the producer who collaborated on the original version of her incredible album Extraordinary Machine. That means his knack for jittery instrumentation and crystal-clear production quality is matched with Apple’s beautiful-yet-vicious anger. As with all her best songs, the singing and melody on “Dull Tool” are energetic and exciting, but those inviting sounds are wrapped around furious lyrics about the failure of hearts.
(2) “Skyfall” by Adele, from Skyfall
I’ve already written about why this song is flawless, and after several weeks of listening, I still feel that way. I don’t have anything to add to my original review, but I couldn’t very well mention the latest soundtrack hits with bringing this into the mix.
(3) “A Thousand Years, Part 2” by Christina Perri, from Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
So this is kind of kooky: Perri recorded the original version of “A Thousand Years” for Breaking Dawn, Part 1, and she was specifically asked to re-record a slightly altered version of the song for the final installment of the film series. (She told MTV all about it.) This time, she added a new intro and got Steve Kazee, the Tony Award-winning star of Broadway’s Once, to add some vocal goodness. (Read my conversation with Kazee’s Broadway co-star, Cristin Milioti, about why she loves RuPaul’s Drag Race.)
In a way, then, this isn’t really a new song, but even still… I prefer it to the original. And I think the original is perfectly lovely—Perri is a solid singer-songwriter—but Kazee’s vocal adds a lovely new texture. It’s a good thing on top of a good thing, and the result is a better thing.
So Who Should Win the Oscar? Perri’s ineligible, since she basically re-wrote last year’s tune, so that leaves Fiona and Adele. And as much as I love “Skyfall,” I’ve got to give the Oscar, in a narrow race, to “Dull Tool.” That’s mostly because “Skyfall” is a clear homage to past Bond themes and “Dull Tool” is quirky and original, while staying in Apple’s wheelhouse.
Does That Mean “Dull Tool” Is Your Favorite of These Songs? Weirdly, no! Though I really like all three tracks, my favorite, by a hair, is “Skyfall.” I just love how grand it is, even if it is more “familiar” sounding than “Dull Tool.” Funny how that works, right? I give the prize to one song, but my heart to another. It’s like wanting to marry one guy and sleep with another one.
Just to be fair, Mark Blankenship will give Christina Perri an American Music Award. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.